NPR alters Gillibrand profile after outcry, though no explanation posted

Rachel Larris of Name It Change It posted a story about changes made to a profile of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that originally aired on May 16 during NPR’s Morning Edition.

The original story, among other things, referred to the New York Democrat’s “soft, girlie voice” and called her “perky.” The story was changed later in the morning, but still contained observations such as this one:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once called her the “hottest member” of the U.S. Senate. But friends say the woman has scary grit — precisely the kind of person who can go head-to-head with the military about how it’s handling sexual assault.

The whole affair led some, including NPR affiliate North Country Public Radio in upstate New York, to ask if the portrayal was sexist. Others, meanwhile, hoped the reactions to NPR’s profile draw new attention to how female politicians are portrayed and the effect of such portrayals on their reception from constituents and the general public.

NPR hasn’t posted an explanation for why the changes were made.

Sarah Jaffe shared a screen capture of the original unedited piece to her Flickr and Twitter accounts, allowing people to see what changes were made. Visitors to the altered version on NPR’s website can still view comments referencing the earlier version of the story. Jezebel has posted enlarged screen captures of the different transcripts showing the changes.

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